Chapter 4

Is Our View Of God Too Small?

In Pale Blue Dot: A Vision Of The Human Future In Space, Carl Sagan challenges believers who try to contain God:

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.

Despite the shortcomings of some of its adherents, biblical Christianity does offer precisely such a magnificent view of the Creator and the cosmos. The God of the Bible is great enough to account for all the discoveries and dimensions of astrophysics. Each discovery gives us more of God’s truth to revel in and wonder about. A measureless difference stretches between Sagan’s godless worldview and the biblical worldview, yet we can agree with his conclusion:

The most important step we can take toward [inhabiting other planets] is to make significant progress on earth. Even modest improvements in social, economic, and political problems that our global civilization now faces could release enormous resources, both material and human, for other goals. There’s plenty of housework to be done here on earth, and our commitment to it must be steadfast.

Even more important than social, economic, and political housework is the task of communicating and implementing spiritual truth. One aspect of that task is to revitalize the shriveled view of God that is widely entertained. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator not only of earth but also of the heavens, is not a limited Being. He is the eternal Spirit who fills all space. And He existed before any Big Bang. Poet Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) urged us to expand our understanding of God when he wrote these lines about two little boys who respond in very different ways to their increasing knowledge of the universe:

A boy was born ’mid
little things,
Between a little world and sky—
And dreamed not of the
cosmic rings
’Round which the circling
planets fly.

He lived in little
works and thoughts,
Where little ventures
grow and plod,
And paced and plowed his
little plots,
And prayed unto his
little God.

But as the mighty
system grew,
His faith grew faint with
many scars;
The Cosmos widened
in his view—
But God was lost
among His stars.

Another boy in
lowly days,
As he, to little
things was born,
But gathered lore in
woodland ways,
And from the glory
of the morn.

As wider skies broke
on his view,
God greatened in his
growing mind;
Each year he dreamed his
God anew,
And left his older
God behind.

He saw the boundless
scheme dilate,
In star and blossom,
sky and clod;
And as the universe
grew great,
He dreamed it for
a greater God.

But we don’t need to conjure up a greater and greater God, imagining one great enough to account for what Sagan called “the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science.” All we need to do is turn to the God revealed in Scripture:

God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also (Gen. 1:16).

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Ps. 19:1-4). He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name (Ps. 147:4).

“To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing (Isa. 40:25-26).

“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord (Jer. 23:23-24).

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (Jn. 1:3).

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:1-3).

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created (Rev. 4:11).